A few days ago my kid said “You know what you are, mom?” I said “No. What?” and he said “Perpetual Awesome” Hearing things like that does not change the horror of finding out that I pretty much need a second job to pay for the self employment taxes on my first job because I’m paying 39% of my income to the state and the feds, but you know what it does do? It makes me feel good. I wasn’t even doing anything for him when he said it. It was spontaneous and it made me feel like I’m doing something right in my life. Something is so much more than nothing, if I’m measuring shit.
I spent most of yesterday lounging on the futon in the game room watching Max play Skyrim. Have you seen or played this video game? It’s unbelievably cool. I don’t like video games but this one is something else. The art and design of the landscapes, characters, and things that populate this game is incredible, gorgeous and I found I was jealous that I wasn’t one of the people who made it. The music is also fantastic. This is quality time spent with my kid. Perhaps to some parents quality time means cooking in the kitchen or doing something “real” or old fashioned but my kid loves it when I watch him play video games which is his big passion in life aside from reading. It makes him feel good. He got to explain all the strange plants and potions his character was acquiring – the game has lots of mushrooms in it! There are books you can buy or steal that you can actually open and read. Yep. This game has books with actual content in them. The level of thought and programing and detail in this game makes it a true work of art.
Philip brought back a few books for Max from the comic book store in Portland. I caught Max still reading at 12:40 am. I couldn’t scold him. It was a Saturday night and my kid couldn’t put his book down. I woke up late this morning and the first thing I see when I walk down the hall is my kid reading. This is another indication that we’re doing something right in our life. Yes, our kid plays hours and hours of video games a week, sometimes in a day, but he also reads and reads and can’t put his books down and doesn’t like to go anywhere in the car without books. He’s a reader. He hates going to the library though. He doesn’t like browsing for books either. We discussed his aversion to going to the library in his last therapy session and he said it isn’t because of all the people but because he finds the library overwhelming and he can never find anything and there’s just too much there. The solution is to preview the library catalog online and make choices for what he wants to check out ahead of time then we help him find them. It was agreed that he needs to go to the library himself so as not to encourage agoraphobia in him. He must keep going out in the world, we just have to find ways to make it more comfortable for him.
That’s not about developing crutches but about developing solutions. I say that because when I was a lot younger and making life choices to reduce my anxiety and nightmares I came under a lot of criticism from people who didn’t know crap. I stopped reading newspapers or watching the news when I was eighteen years old. This decision significantly reduced my nightmares (from pretty much every single night to maybe every other night) but others implied on more than one occasion that it was a crutch to not read the newspapers, that to not be able to read them made me a lesser citizen of my country and that I shouldn’t be allowed to vote if I didn’t stay informed. I countered that the media didn’t do much to “inform” me of anything worth being informed of and mostly filled my head with hyperbole, lies, and fear which wasn’t useful at all. It sunk in though. This idea that I should fix myself so I could read the newspapers again and that I wasn’t good enough as I was. That being broken and limited made me inferior and that to “cater” to my mental illness was to encourage me to be more weak.
My psychologist, Dr. Jay Judine (RIP), said that was complete and utter bullshit. He explained that the only way my not reading newspapers could be considered a “crutch” or a negative avoidance is if I personally felt I really needed to be reading them, that I really WANTED to be able to read them but didn’t feel I could. Get the difference? If my life is good and rich and fine without reading newspapers and not reading them also improves my mental health, it isn’t something in need of fixing, it means I’ve found a solution to improve the quality of my life and everyone else can go hang themselves on their own issues and leave me the hell alone. So I learned to evaluate what in my life and what about myself needs “fixing” or needs help or intervention not based on comparison to other people and what they think or need or want but based on what is important to me.
If not going to the library prevents Max from reading books, something he greatly enjoys, then finding a way for him to use the library in the greatest comfort is important. How we accomplish it is not. If picking out all the titles he wants ahead of time in the comfort of his own home makes it easier for him to go to the library to get them, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Incidentally, this is also one of the main ways to decide if your issues are in need of addressing, to decide if you need to be professionally assessed and treated for your mental quirks and challenges. You could be very much like me in all your anxieties, maybe even have the anxiety levels I do, but if you’re comfortable with the way your life is – if these anxieties don’t get in the way of what you want, if they don’t destroy relationships or impact your ability to function – then it doesn’t matter that we’re anxiety twins, you don’t need help. That’s a major criteria for diagnosis – how these mental challenges impact your daily functioning. Mine impact me a lot. They impacted my ability to parent my child when he was a baby – I spent most of my day just meeting his most basic needs but wasn’t truly present for him – that was a problem that needed addressing. I didn’t want to miss his whole childhood under a cloud of depression and anxiety. Getting treatment (both therapy AND medication) made an enormous difference in my quality of life and therefore, my child’s.
If we’re depression or anxiety twins but you function pretty darn well and don’t feel the need for help or assessment – I think that’s great. I’ll still recognize you as part of my tribe. Don’t be offended. You can’t be wired just like me and not be in my tribe – you just don’t have the name tag. And I’m not eager to give you one if you don’t want one or need one. But I still know neurologically challenged people when I meet them. I suppose if you were offended by me considering you a part of my strange mentally ill tribe then we aren’t bound to be good friends anyway. My tribe, diagnosed or not, is full of the most amazing, talented, bright, cool, kooky, weird, genius, and interesting people in the world.
I realize that I’ve been talking about mental illness a lot lately. I’m definitely trying to keep momentum up on my informative series but being in such crisis right now as I obviously am in – it’s an important topic for me personally. I have started using my blog to spew again, as I used to do in the beginning. Catharsis. Without being able to afford therapy I must seek it in whatever way I can. My fiction writing has completely stalled, as I mentioned a post or two ago. It may be because my head is such a mess and there’s so little light in there. I need some light to write in a pointed manner.
Spring cleaning has been helping too. We have unloaded at least 3 boxes full of books, 3 boxes of Max’s Hot Wheels cars, 3 boxes of bathroom stuff (unused soaps from the store stock that I don’t use because the fragrance is too strong and other non-creepy bathroom stuff), 3 boxes of clothes, 5 boxes of fabric and crafts, and at least 3 boxes of miscellaneous house crap that might be useful to others. All these things to both friends and to families in need. I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve been letting go of things I didn’t think I was ready to let go of. I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t need so much stuff. I need my tools (kitchen and sewing and preserving tools, for example) but I don’t need nearly as much stuff as I have. Not only do I not need it, I don’t want lots of stuff.
On the other hand, in place of the many books I’ve given away and sold – I have discovered a series of cookbooks I intend to have ALL of. I already mentioned it – the Culinaria series. I find it so inspiring – the photographs, seeing a culture through its food traditions – this is the first time in a very long time that I’ve coveted things as strongly as I covet these books. I’d like to have them all in hardback but I can’t afford that. The Powell’s credit that Philip generously gave me will allow me to get the Culinaria: Greece in used hardback and the Culinaria: Russia and the Culinaria: Hungary in paperback. Perhaps someday I’ll replace the paper ones with hardback but I can’t wait to get my hands even on the paperback. I feel like a kid collecting Barbies. (I was a serious Barbie collector).
Today is Sunday. So much better than Friday or last Tuesday. I cleared my work schedule so that Friday I could go to the CPA (poor dude has to face our hysteria and anger – he did it with complete compassion and grace) and meet with a couple of friends, so that Saturday I could hang out with my kid all day, and so that today I can cook. I’m going to make a mushroom side to put on Stitch and Boots and I’m going to work on a secret pet project involving marshmallows and bacon, because I need something really silly to amuse myself with. You know you wish you were in my kitchen with me today! I may also be making biscotti and a stir fry of cabbage OR perhaps I’ll finally try to make Aloo Gobi. Whatever I do in there – I’m just going to play. My kitchen is my playground.
I hope you all have something good and silly planned for today to lighten you up before facing yet another week. Let go and have fun!